Place Management in Japan

Calendar 15 February 2019
Time 3.00 pm – 4.30 pm. Registration from 2.30pm, seated by 3.00pm 
Location  URA Function Hall, 5th Storey, The URA Centre, 45 Maxwell Road, Singapore 069118
cpd 2 SIP CPD pts


Lecture Poster (459 KB)
Dr Yasui Miki's Slides (3.4MB)
Mr Fujii Hiroaki's Slides (5.3MB)
Ms Takada Azusa's Slides (2MB)

Lecture Video & Photos

Source: Professor Miki Yasui


Can place management promote economic growth in societies with an ageing or shrinking population? In Japan, a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach has become more important for local area growth marketing, area-based placemaking, and visitor hospitality. “Area Management” organizations, together with national and local governments, have introduced new partnership models to let them manage public spaces such as streets, parks or privately-owned public spaces.

In this lecture, Dr Yasui Miki will introduce how area management has been organized in Japan, what policies have worked, and which partnership models have been successful.

Lecture Report

“Neighbourhood renewal started in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka (with the involvement) of major property developers…and we had competition among neighbourhoods. Expectations also changed from the 1980s, from (day-use) office areas to 20 hours mixed community (use). The Japanese government also developed public contributions in exchange for higher floor area ratios, so developers started to think about how their developments could contribute to the neighbourhood.” - Dr Yasui Miki


Public-private partnerships can bring various stakeholders together to revitalise an area. One long-running model in Japan is the Area Management Organisation, which has helped cities stay vibrant, promote economic growth and nurture community ties since the 1980s.


These ground-up organisations usually start as private initiatives by local stakeholders such as property owners, business operators or local residents. They employ strategies such as place-making and participatory urban planning to work with government agencies, merchant associations as well as community organisations to redevelop an area.


“The property owners may hope to raise value of the land, the business operators may want to gather more customers to the area while residents want to raise the quality of life,” explained Dr Yasui Miki of Hosei University and vice-chair of the Japan Area Management Network.


Speaking at a CLC lecture in February with other representatives of such organisations, she added: “One of the best things (about) area management is that there is a voice and a hand of the community to collaborate with all the agencies of government.”


In the Otemachi-Marunouchi-Yurakucho (OMY) business district in Tokyo, area management organisations have helped developed more pedestrian-friendly streets, converted roads to public squares and organised social and community events. These urban improvement schemes are part of efforts to transform a district filled with offices into a more mixed-use area in response to changing economic and social circumstances. Mitsubishi Estate, a major property owner in OMY, worked with an area management organisation and its various stakeholders to promote the district’s overall growth.


“When we were planning redevelopment, we thought it was a good idea to gather landlords to discuss the future vision of the OMY area with government entities,” said Fujii Hiroaki, the general manager of Mitsubishi Estate’s Area Management Promotion Office.


“Mitsubishi owns one third of the OMY area, but we didn’t focus on each individual block’s value. We advocated for the development of each building and the value creation of the (entire) area to increase total value, as well as area management activities to share the value of the area.”


Another company that benefitted from working with the area management organisation was the East Japan Railway Company. They also came to an agreement with the local government to restore the historic Tokyo Station Building. Funding for the restoration was boosted by a scheme that allowed the railway company to sell unused floor area ratio to other developers.


“Public-private partnerships are vital to advance development and management for cities. The subsequent management (of areas) is also a key factor to (maintain) values over the long-term,” said Fujii.


The area management organisation has also found success in Umeda, the transport hub of Osaka. Facing falling birth rates and an ageing population, the Umeda Area Management Organisation brought together businesses in the area—three of four which are railway companies— to revitalise its appeal. They collaborated to organise events such as the Yukata Festival and the Umeda Snowman Festival, made the area more pedestrian-friendly as well as attractive to international visitors.


“The companies are competitors, but they (face) the common issues of ageing society and decreasing birth rates. So they thought it’s time to collaborate,” said Takada Azusa, Assistant Manager of Hankyu Hanshin Properties Corp’s Urban Management Division. “(The companies) do not expect direct profits even though they pay for development (and area management). But indirectly, they do benefit.”


As cities continue to evolve in response to economic changes, area management organisations provide a platform for managing this change, said Dr Yasui. But they can only succeed if there are supporting policies, alignment of the government agencies and the private sector as well as the inclusion of people who identify closely with the area.


“Business models for each industry are changing, and so we need (more) networking and more projects,” she added. “Social capital, the relationships and mutual trust between individuals, organisations or governments, is important.”


This report first appeared in the Mar 2019 Better Cities newsletter.


About the Speakers


Dr Yasui Miki

Professor, Hosei University
Vice-Chair, Japan Area Management Network
Board member, IDA International Downtown Association

Dr Miki Yasui is a Professor from Hosei University and an expert in the area of community management, urban governance, public private partnerships and social integration of urban communities. She is an active member of the national alliance of Area Management Organizations and is the current Vice-Chair of the Board. Dr Yasui has also served on many governmental councils and committees, including the Discussion Committee for New Urban Management by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) of Japan.


Mr Fujii Hiroaki
General Manager,
Area Management Promotion Office,
Urban Development Promotion Department,
Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd

Mr Hiroaki Fujii is the General Manager for the Area Management Promotion Office of Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. He is also an Executive Officer for both the OMY Area Management Association and Japan Area Management Network. He is experienced in the field of investment and real estate, having been the Managing Director for Mitsubishi Estate in London and Tokyo. He graduated from Hitotsubashi University with a bachelor’s degree in Law in 1985.


Ms Takada Azusa
Assistant Manager,
Urban Management Division,
Hankyu Hanshin Properties Corp

Ms Azusa Takada is the Assistant Manager for the Urban Management Division of Hankyu Hanshin Holdings Group. She is experienced in the field of real estate, with numerous projects, including the development and management of the Grand Front Osaka Shopping Complex and the regional activation of the Hanshin Railway. She also serves as the secretariat of the Umeda Area Management Alliance.


Mr Tanikawa Taku

Senior Manager, Unit Leader
Area Management Promotion Office, Urban Development Promotion Department and Tokiwabashi Development Department
Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd.

Mr Taku Tanikawa is the Senior Manager and Unit Leader for the Area Management Promotion Office of Mitsubishi Estate Co. Ltd. His work is focused on Area Management for business and development projects in the Marunouchi Area. He graduated the University of Tokyo with a bachelor’s degree in Urban Engineering in 2003.


Ms Chou Mei

Group Director (Conservation & Urban Design)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Ms Chou Mei has been with URA since 2000 and has been involved in the planning and shaping of Singapore’s city centre. Her portfolio in recent years has included driving and overseeing various projects in the city centre via the integration of land use, urban design and conversation. She received her training in Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.